25 YEARS AGO
(December 30th, 1988)
AT the age of 73, Megan Boyd, BEM, is entitled to her retirement, but it is not of her choosing.
After a lifetime of fly-tying, she has only been stopped by irreversibly weakened eyesight.
Miss Boyd was born in Surrey in 1915. She, her sister, Welsh river baillie father and English mother moved to Scotland just after the First World War.
They lived at The Doll, then Badnellan for 13 years before moving to Kintradwell in 1935. There, the family resided in a little wooden bungalow off the A9.
Megan has been fly-tying since the age of 12 and was taught by Bob Trussler, a local gamekeeper. Apart from spending the last war years in the coastguard and working for just over two years in Golspie on a milk van, she devoted herself to the intricate craft for the benefit of anglers everywhere.
Using only scissors, a knife and a pair of tweezers, she gained a worldwide reputation for her colourful lures and numbered Royalty among her clients.
In 1971 she was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of her talents and for her work with the disabled.
Earlier this year, Megan’s eyesight failed so suddenly and so badly that she can now no longer read nor dial a phone number, far less continue fly-tying.
"Everything went wallop in the one go", she says. She finally had to go to London to consult eye specialists and her trip was financed by Sir Anthony Nutting and Mr Peter Taylor, her former landlord at Kintradwell.
But London doctors could not help. She has had to give up fly-tying and move down from her cottage with the sea views into a small house in Brora.
Forced to give up her own highly skilled profession, she has little respect for today’s more commercial fly-tyers. To her, the tying of traditional patters was a time-consuming art. Venlards of Croyden supplied the rare feathers like Italian crow, kingfisher and jungle cock, but many of these birds are now protected species.
Megan Boyd’s products are greatly sought after and with such materials and skill involved, could fetch high prices. They can last a fisherman many seasons.
She herself has never cast a fly in her life. She would have tried it, if only it hadn’t meant killing a fish in the process. Displayed in her living room are framed examples of her work – the brightly coloured Jock Scott, Blue Charm, Green Highlander, Thunder and Lightning.
Now, after 61 years, Megan Boyd may no longer be tying her world-famous flies, but through freely teaching her skill to youngsters years ago, she can at least be sure that her art lives on for another generation.
50 YEARS AGO
(January 3rd, 1964)
MR Jack Macleod, head master of Brora High School, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Mr T Strang, physical education teacher at Dornoch Academy, last Wednesday in a BBC programme from Rosemarkie, talked to Alistair Gardner about the ski club he had formed. He mentioned one of the popular ski-ing slopes in Sutherland and also advised on the type of equipment required.
By a majority vote, Sutherland roads committee recently agreed to recommend that county roadmen should start work an hour earlier every day – at 7am instead of 8am – so that icebound roads could be gritted in time for early morning traffic.
But that was overturned at Invershin last Monday by Sutherland County Council, by nine votes to eight in favour of a scheme whereby roads used by school buses and other regular traffic should be made as safe as possible as early in the morning as possible.
Roads committee chairman G. McIver said that to bring every roadman in the county out to work at 7am every day for three months of the year would be very expensive.
Council member Mr G. M. Murray, Rogart, said they would be "squandering money" with men doing nothing when gritting was not required. It was too dark at 7am to do anything else.
Sutherland has been enjoying a very fine spell of weather. Last Saturday was extremely mild and gardeners made the most of it. There was some heavy rain at the beginning of the week but Wednesday (New Year’s Day) was mainly fair and it was mild again yesterday.
75 YEARS AGO
(January 5th, 1939)
TWO graves, stated to be between 2-3000 years old, have just been discovered near the railway gatehouse at Achinchanter, Dornoch. The graves, containing human remains, are in a wonderful state of preservation, being built up with flags from a considerable depth. An ancient flower vase has also been discovered.
Members of the antiquarian society have been at work on the graves for some days and until their investigation is completed, fuller details are not available.
THE New Year was ushered in very quietly in Brora. It was the smallest crowd seen for years that assembled at the fountain when Clyne War Memorial clock chimed and the mill hooter sounded to usher in 1939.
Red, white and blue rockets lit the sky but otherwise there was no outward sign of hilarity usually associated with the ushering in of the New Year in Brora.
THROUGH the generosity of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland and Miss Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, the older people in the West End of Golspie were treated to a splendid tea and entertainment in the Welcome Hall, Golspie, on Thursday night.
After tea in the main hall those present, to the number of about 50, adjourned to the Mission Hall and, along with a number of the younger members of the community, listened to a very fine programme of song, speech and music.
MISS Haldane, representing the trustees of the late Mr MacBean, Market Street, Tain, has sent to Rev. H. F. MacNeill £3 for distributing among the deserving needy in Ardgay.
Mr MacBean’s relationship with a former minister of the Parish of Kincardine inspired in him a great love of the district and his kindly feelings materialise annually in this much appreciated benefit which Mr MacNeill disburses with considerate discrimination. The remains of Mr MacBean are interred in Kincardine Churchyard.
100 YEARS AGO
(January 1st, 1914)
THE response to the call for enrolment for the National Reserve in Sutherland and Caithness has been fairly satisfactory but there are many men of the finest stamp available whose names have not as yet been placed on the register.
Any persons who have served for three years in any of the forces of the Crown, are eligible and the calls for service will be light except in cases of grave national emergency.
Sutherland and Caithness people have always been noted for their patriotism and the promoters of the National Reserve movement feel that the appeal for men to register their names will not be made in vain. Those interested in the matter may obtain full particulars and registration forms from Quartermaster-Sergeant McEwen, Golspie, or any of the sergeant-instructors.
AN accident in which a large performing elephant was involved, caused some excitement at Waverley Station, Edinburgh, on Monday afternoon. The elephant was being conveyed from Nottingham to Glasgow to take part in the winter carnival which opened in the zoo buildings on Thursday.
The covered carriage truck in which the animal was being carried had been shunted onto the suburban line at Waverley station and, when standing there, was run into by a light engine.
The impact was so severe that the elephant was thrown through the door at the back of the truck. The animal had been chained in the carriage and when thrown out hung clear of the ground.
It was with some difficult that the chains were broken and the animal released. When the impact occurred, the elephant knocked against one of the attendants, whose arm was fractured.
After being released, the elephant had to be walked along the line and onto the platform before it could be released.
CHRISTMAS Day was observed in Strathhalladale in the usual quiet and orderly manner with no outstanding event to mark the roll of time beyond the exchanging of happy messages of goodwill and prosperity between friends and acquaintances.